Direcctor: Mark Buntzman
Screenplay: Mark Buntzman
Score: David Spear
Cast Robert Ginty, Mario Van Peebles, Deborah Geffner
The Exterminator 2 was the follow up to the original Exterminator directed by James Glickenhaus and released in 1984, four years after the first installment. Produced by the legendary purveyors of exploitative sequels, Cannon Pictures this action thriller is set back in New York with out erstwhile vigilant John Eastland aka The Exterminator literally burning up the street scum with s flamethrower and a neat welding mask to cover his identity.
The plot has Eastland back on the savage New York streets dispensing justice. As the press have s field day with the masked avenger, a notorious street gang led by their leader X played with buffness by Mario Van Peebles decide that they should be ruling the streets of New York and that The Exterminator has to be killed as he had also murdered X’s younger brother, so a convoluted chain of events propels Eastland and X towards a showdown. Eastland, meanwhile has between vigilantism and looking for work, found time to have a relationship in the form of a club dancer called Caroline played by Deborah Geffner and as he meets another Vietnam war buddy Be Gee (Frankie Faison) who is also a garbage truck driver. He offers Eastland a job and in exchange Eastland enlists him in his vigilante war against X The whole scene is now set for death and mayhem as Eastland loses all he has and catapults himself into a finale with X.
The screenplay by Mark Buntzman had jettisoned virtually all of the Eastland character back story, disregarding his loneliness and his re-adjustment to society so relevant in an ex soldiers life. and his lose of his best friend, emotional scars. At the end of the original Exterminator, Eastland survives a shooting to be washed up on the Hudson river, we never find out in the sequel how he managed on from there and what he did to continue in his vigilantism. As we begin Exterminator 2, Eastland is listening to police radios and tracking down criminals to kill. That saying the sequel is still a stripped down revenge film, short at an 89 minute running time it still makes enough of it’s basic back story and the familiarity with the Eastland/Exterminator character to deliver a straightforward revenge movie.
When Cannon Pictures optioned the sequel it was at a time that Death Wish 2 had come and gone gone, Death Wish 3 was at the cinema so they wanted resurrect another vigilante classic, so Exterminator 2 was born. Glickenhas was hot approached to reprise the directing and writing roles so directorial duties fell to a jobbing director, Mark Buntzman stable director fir Cannon was drafted in. There were also cameos by Arye Gross in his debut role, and John Turturro. Exterminator 2 had a very troubled production which included budget problems, heavy re-editing and re-shoots, and censorship issues. Cannon Pictures studio wasn’t pleased with director Mark Buntzman’s original rough cut of the film, so they hired film doctor William Sachs to do extensive re-shoots in Los Angeles to make the movie better.
I saw this film on it’s UK release in 1984 at the ABC Cinema at Elephant and castle South London. I was underage but managed to blag my way in with my friend Billy H for an 8pm showing it was one of those cinemas where it was easy to get in to if you knew how to convince the house staff at the time. The place smelled of stale water and urine and was always cold, a graveyard like place to watch films, which added to the atmosphere. I had persuaded my friend watch Exterminator 2 after giving him the plot synopsis of the original film and how I had watched it several times on VHS. Once we had seen the Exterminator 2 on the silver screen, I did have trouble convincing Billy we had just watched a fairly okay film. He has not really interested in seeing the original Exterminator based on what he had just seen. Shame!
It is an interesting fact that he UK cinema quad poster depicts Ginty as a muscled bound action hero in the mode of Danger:Diabolic complete with rocket firing truck and a retinue of explosions which seems to sell the film as an all action war movie. I liked the poster as it affixed my stare during my journey to secondary school on the Underground. I did not care for a minute that it had little to do with the context of the movie but it still an image I have not forgotten to this day.
So in retrospect Exterminator 2 has little to offer on the Exterminator mythology, more of how not to make a below par sequel with no input from it’s original creators. That saying as a piece of exploitative film work it is a good example of creating a sequel that nobody really wanted and then building a following for an unwanted film. Either that is a genius stroke or pure luck, the viewer is left to decide.